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Scholars converge at Makerere University to review the 40 years of Neoliberalization in Uganda

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Scholars met at Makerere University to review four decades of neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the role of universities as agents and the transformative character of the process.

The ’what to do’ question was one of the central points of discussion at the conference titled Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa held on 18th to 19th January, 2024. The conference, a collaborative effort among Makerere University, International University of Rabat, Morocco and the University of Leeds, United Kingdom was organised and steered by Dr Giuliano Martiniello (Rabat), Dr Sarah Ssali (Makerere), Dr Jörg Wiegratz (Leeds), Dr Rose Nakayi (Makerere) and Professor Godfrey Asiimwe (Makerere, Mountains of the Moon University). The conference organisers had previously collaborated as part of the work on the edited collection ‘Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation’ which was published in 2018.

Left to Right: Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Sarah Ssali and Dr Jörg Wiegratz. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Sarah Ssali and Dr Jörg Wiegratz.

The conference gave particular focus to relevant developments in matters of political economy, politics, society and culture in Uganda’s market society since 2018.  Speakers and participants were drawn from Uganda, UK, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Colombia, Egypt, South Africa, Denmark, Morocco, Canada and USA; across disciplines; including civil society leaders, journalists, intellectuals, grassroots activists, citizen researchers, as well as scholars and PhD students. More participants followed the discussions online on both conference days. The large gathering allowed for broad discussions and cross fertilisation of ideas on the various themes, connecting theory and practice within the Ugandan context.

The keynote was given by Professor Yash Tandon, a major figure in political and intellectual life in Uganda and beyond. Tandon positioned the conference in the historical context of Uganda and highlighted the imperialist roots of the neoliberal policies that are driving the restructuring agenda in Uganda today. The keynote panel brought together interventions by Professor John Jean Barya, Dr Martiniello and the public intellectual, writer and activist Kalundi Serumaga.

Professor Yash Tandon. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Professor Yash Tandon.

Papers were presented under panels on various themes such as labour, agricultural and environmental change, oil and energy transition, socio-cultural change, education, social policy state, elections and political agency. Several papers interrogated the pertinent neoliberal policies as drivers of problematic changes in various sectors such as oil and gas, education, health and housing, and in matters such as labour and labour unions. This stimulated debates on a key question: whether indeed there could be alternatives to the ongoing neoliberalisation of Uganda that seems to be unstoppable, across all realms of society.

Commentators on the papers included Dr Yusuf Serunkuma (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg), journalist and activist Agatha Atuhaire. They reflected on the everyday life aspects and the deep politics of neoliberalism in Uganda and highlighted various forms of existing resistance and push back vis-à-vis neoliberal political economy. Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS Executive Director) enriched the conference with her comments about global and local neoliberalism, and the importance of activism in the struggle for change in today’s Uganda: she raised the ‘what should we do?’ question on conference day one; which was picked up by subsequent speakers including in the conference’s closing speeches and discussions.

Dr. Winnie Byanyima speaking. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Winnie Byanyima speaking.

Issues arising from the conference included:

  • Four decades into the neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the all-encompassing and transformative character of this process is evident. It was also noted that scholars have grappled with the analysis of some of these changes; mostly focusing on issues of governance, policy-making, military conflict, and state-building.
  • Relatively little analytical attention has been given to major topics concerning the making and operation of today’s neoliberal Uganda, this exemplary market society in East Africa and the continent at large: this includes the political economy of neoliberal restructuring (including the roll-out of commercialisation across sectors and the rise to dominance of foreign TNCs), the political sociology of the formation of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic movements, and the political ecology of extractivism.
  • The existence of significant gaps in the academic literature about the interlinkages among economic, political, sociological, ecological, legal and cultural processes in this highly consequential round of capitalist restructuring of the country: the phase that has locked-in a distinct capitalist institutional architecture for the foreseeable future.  
  • The question of how to contest, resist and change the existing neoliberal polity, economy and culture – i.e., the fundamentals of Uganda’s capitalism – is also not often analysed in much of the scholarship. And yet, the ‘what to do?’ question is prominent in the public debate in the country, given the manifold crises – across economic and social sectors – brought about by neoliberalisation.
Dr. Rose Nakayi speaking. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Rose Nakayi speaking.

The conference took place in a wider context in which universities have been recognized as agents of change in many societal spheres. They are moving away from the ‘ivory tower’ concept, where they are seen as occupying special places in terms of knowledge generation without much concrete connection to society and its everyday challenges. Instead, the change-oriented agency of today’s University is evident also in the offering of a platform to debate and generate ideas that can inform policy for change, and involvement in change-oriented projects with other stakeholders, public and private.

The conference thus aimed at providing a platform for analysing and debating various developments of Uganda’s neoliberalism since the early 1980s.

Dr. Guilliano Martinello. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Guilliano Martinello.

It is hoped that many papers presented at the conference will be developed further, subjected to peer review, and published to inform research and policy making in Uganda and beyond. The conference participants continue their networking and collaborations beyond the end of the conference.

The next conference on contemporary capitalism in Uganda is expected to be held in 2026. The conference was supported by the POLIS Strategic Investment Fund (SRIF) 2023/24 (University of Leeds). This grant also helped citizen researchers from northern Uganda to participate in the conference and present their research findings.

A screen showing the Conference theme. Conference on Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa, 18th-19th January, 2024, Conference Room, Level 2, Block B, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A screen showing one of the papers presented at the Conference.

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Re-advertisement: Undergraduate Programmes 2024/2025

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A section of the University Road

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications from Ugandan, East African, and international applicants for the undergraduate programmes under Government Sponsorship (BVL) and private sponsorship scheme for the 2024/2025 Academic Year.

Each applicant should:

a) Have the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) with at least five passes, or its equivalent and at least two principal passes at Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) obtained at the same sitting. For day programmes only candidates who sat A’ Level in 2023,2022 and 2020 are eligible to apply. For evening, afternoon, and external programmes, a candidate is not restricted on the year of sitting A’ Level.

OR

d) Degree from a recognised/Chartered Institution

Further details on the re-advertised programmes , fees structure, and the procedure of submitting applications can be accessed from the document below:                                            

The closing date for receiving applications for undergraduate admissions is Friday 26th July 2024.                                                           

WARNING:                                                             

  1. Applicants are strongly warned against presenting forged or other people’s academic documents to support their applications for admission.  The consequences, if discovered, are very grave indeed.
  2. Do not buy any other documents not originating from the Academic Registrar’s Office.  Those who buy them do so at their own risk. 
  3. The Academic Registrar has not appointed any agent to act on his behalf to solicit for additional funds other than the application fee stated above.    
  4. Applicants are advised to use the right programme names and codes. The university will not be responsible for any wrong information entered in the system by applicants.     

Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza
ACADEMIC REGISTRAR

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Freshers’ Orientation and Registration For 2024/2025 Academic Year

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To All First Year Students;
First Year students (Freshers) are by tradition given an “acclimatization” period of one week
which is referred to as the “Orientation Week”. The Freshers report on Campus one week
earlier than the Continuing students and during this week they are introduced to the key facilities in the University as well as other important aspects of life at the University.

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Admission Lists -Disability, Sports and District Quota Schemes 2024/25

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Students move towards Main Building on University Road

The Office of Academic Registrar, Makerere University has released the admission list of candidates admitted under the Disability, Sports and District Quota Schemes with Government sponsorship 2024/25 Academic Year.

Kindly follow the links below to access the lists:-

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